Prelude – Two definitions
Pizza. Somehow Greek and Roman in nature. For sake of argument we’ll say Mediterranean. Stretches of roasted dough with cheeses and tomato and herbs. Perhaps a few olives thrown in. It was a hodgepodge of ingredients collected from the surrounding hills of Greek Islands and Italian countrysides. Particularly Naples, where the name comes from and the modern pizza as we know it slowly came into being. Italian immigrates took it abroad, and troops occupied in world war 2 turned it into a fast food behemoth in the western world with New York and Chicago being the giants on the field. London surely somewhere in the top 10.
Vampires. An archetypal demon like creature, typically the villain originating in Eastern European folklore and found its way into the Romantic pens of Lord Byron and Polidori, with the modern image primarily sourced from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the subsequent 1931 film. Throughout the 20th century the image and abilities of these fictional creatures became infinitely varied in different medias. (
Ed note: This is a Twilight free zone.) Identifying attributes of vampires are an aversion to daylight, a wanton and predatory need to drink human blood, an affinity with goth attire and immortality.
Ladies and Gentlemen and everything in between; somehow, let’s put the two together. Being a culture vulture journalist on the very edge of all things contemporary and prone to the occasional Lindsay Ellis media theory binge, I am aware that the 80s are having a nostalgic renaissance; Stephen King is having another spike in popularity, Stranger Things is currently the biggest show right now, Trevor Horn is playing London. So it could be granted that Lost Boys, a cult classic from the late 80s about a gang that’ll never grow up can follow suit in this on-going trend as an vehicle for delicious pizza. I get the feeling the founders of this place chose their timing extremely well. It’s a niche brand but it just works so well.
“. . .you need to try this signature house pineapple relish, its cool and unique and brilliant to dip in. . . “
If anything I’m thankful for the excuse to sit down and watch the film and soak up two easy hours of “”research””. My conclusion of the film? I’m not sure I want to live in a world where Joel Schumaker makes sense. Conclusively, what we’ve learnt is not all vampire stories are created equally. They’ve come a long way since Bela Lugosi. Who’d ever heard of a vampire called Keith anyways? But what do you expect? Hashtag #notallvampires and let us know.
However, as someone who didn’t grow up in the 80s, I’m going to have to try to get into the mindset. Like a Gen-xer that’s been inside too long and has heard the Cure are touring in town, I’ve put on my best oversized black denim jacket with a popped collar and armed with hairspray and eyeliner, – (“guy-liner, if you will. Form a queue, girls.“) – and pre-gaming with a playlist of Bauhaus, the Cure, Kate Bush, Prince and Kavinsky; a symphony of synths and gated snares. We’re finding our goth roots today, and it’s good to be home. Bitches.
“Bela Lou-dough-si’s Dead. . . Undead. . . Undead. . .Undead.“
The place sticks out like a . . . well, like a vampire themed pizza place. We arrive at lunchtime and its hard not to notice a place like this if it’s Camden neighbours are a Costa and a corner shop and a bus stop. We shake off the overcast, muggy weather and step into a little fantasy world. The walls are made up like the matte paintings of landscapes in the Universal horror films of the 20s and 30s, with Max Schreck’s Nosferatu painted next to the menu. Next to it is the cocktail list and we’re already in trouble. The ceiling is a wallpaper of blown up comic book drawings from an adaptation of the Lost Boys film. Everywhere you go you’ve got Keith Sutherland’s mulleted face staring back at you and you don’t want that when you go to the loo. However, Lost Boys Pizza promises three things on their site: black charcoal pizza, banging cocktails and killer 80s playlist. The writing is on the wall, we’re gonna party like it’s 1987.
I have to say this – I like this menu! Menus should be simple, amongst other things this tells us the place knows what it’s doing, who it’s aiming for and what they’re trying to do. So when you have a few unique dishes it all stands out and makes you want it all. Clear and concise, simple and easily presented makes me wanna just type everything up for you. Having said that I’m appalled at the lack of comedic mileage gotten out of selling garlic bread in this place. Think of the fortune they’d make on the puns alone!
And it’s not hard to see some other selling points on the menu – absinthe shots for £6, Meat Free Mondays – a cocktail and vegetarian pizza for £10 – all day happy hour Sundays, 2 cocktails for £12. This place is selling itself hard and that’s no bad thing. Starting off there’s the Sneaky Vimto; coming to the table like a designer glass of blood.
” . . the atmosphere is very loose, fun and informal . . .”
The pizzas are called something sardonic or sarky – the healthiest pizza is called the Coffin Dodger. Wanna guess the ingredients? A slab of vegetables – broccoli, artichokes, mushrooms, rocket, with nutritional yeast instead of cheese. Each pizza is an original set of toppings – “pops to go – sausage, broccoli, parmesan“. – But the main selling point that needs to be explained is the dough. Lost Boys add charcoal which “brings an earthy, smoky flavour which is simply to die for.”
We could smell our starter well before bringing them out; that lovely freshly baked bread scent. The dough balls are warming and smell so, so fresh. They look like coal, which is a bit of trip when you pick them up and they’re about as light as a breeze. They feel and taste like regular dough, only smokier and a little sour. They crunch up well in the mouth and get cleared very quickly. The ragu sauce is salty and an appropriately heavy counter to the soft bread.
“Does the pizza come with a steak?“
For my main I had the Ready Pizza One (£10) – a gloriously messy mix of apple smoked ham and slices of red chilli with a drizzle of pineapple relish. The dip, drizzled in the shape of a pentagram, tastes like a zesty pesto. The cheese is thick and soft, with the sliced jalapenos and ham giving it a great tang and taste amongst the fat of the cheese. It’s a unique combination of toppings that go well with the soured taste of the crusty, smokey dough base.
And you need to try this signature house pineapple relish; its cool and unique and brilliant to dip in. It would be great to pit it up against some incredibly hot chilli peppers; habanero and or naga peppers. Wonderfully sweet and cooling without a glossy mouth feel.
Every pizza is creative and unique, clearly thought well out. You just want to try every single one on the strength of the names alone (“Fangs for the Memories”) and we collect up a selection of dips for all our crusts: BBQ sauce, ragu, pineapple relish and garlic & aubergine dips.
So the atmosphere is very loose, fun and informal. And dare we say it? American. There’s one member of staff attending to the place, and makes conversation, she’s incredibly knowledgeable and chatty to us. Asking us about the film, the music, the scenery. And more importantly promising the absinthe bar will be open next time.
For afters, having lamented that their Cheesecake to Die For is sold out (“Well I guess I’ll just die then. . . “) their brownie, with almonds and dates in the mix smells incredibly rich and taste crumbly, chewy and thick. The soy ice cream is incredibly sweet with the dry mix of brownie.
“I’m gonna set up an Anne Rice themed Chinese place opposite them on the street.”
Pizza and vampires. They’re not the strangest of bedfellows I guess. There’s something of the anti-after school special about it; teenage rebellion, horror films and fast food. Rock and roll, leather jackets and sleaze. Juvenile. Red blooded boys and their boys-only clubs. This is the place to suck back a cold one while waiting for the strip clubs to open. Or a place to horrify your conservative bourgeois family with when they visit London.
But after all the puns, the finely made food, the good service, the Don Henley and Talking Heads records, the cocktails and goth decor I’m left with an overwhelming sense of fun. It’s fun to come here. Unlike the film, criticised for style over substance, this place has made style it’s substance.
Next time we’ll have to try the absinthe bar. . .